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January 2015

How to Prepare for a Power Outage

  • Plan ahead with water. Fill the bathtub with water, so you can flush the toilet. Keep a bucket by the tub. It takes about one bucket to efficiently flush a toilet. Buy four or five gallons of water for drinking.

  • Buy LED flashlights and LED headlights. The headlight is great because it keeps your hands free. You can sit and read or walk around with an instant flashlight on your head. LED lights are brighter and last longer.

  • Stock up on batteries for the radio and flashlights.

  • Keep a cooler handy to keep food fresh. You can set the cooler outside in the snow or cold. This will come in handy if the power is off for more than a day.

  • Purchase a generator if you have no other heat supply. Generators will run the furnace, refrigerator, and other electrical items. If you plan to use a portable generator, place the generator outside, not in a crawl space, basement, or attached garage.

  • Make sure your generator is connected safely; an improperly connected generator can cause serious injury or death. When your power comes back on, turn off and disconnect your generator immediately.

  • Stock up on magazines, books, and games. Use the LED headlights to entertain the children and yourself in the evenings.

  • Keep warm socks available and blankets to wrap up in one basket that can be easily located.

  • Stock emergency food and related items. Ideal choices are nonperishable foods that require no cooking, such as canned fruit, peanut butter, crackers, cereals, cereal bars, canned soup, tuna, and bread.

  • Keep a manual can opener handy, along with disposable plates and utensils.

  • If you plan to use a charcoal or gas grill for cooking, keep the grill outdoors.

  • Remember, melted snow or ice can be a source of water during winter outages (but not for drinking).

  • Plan an alternate source of heat in the event of a cold-weather crisis. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, keep adequate kindling and firewood on hand.

  • If you plan to use a portable generator, place the generator outside, not in a crawl space, basement, or attached garage.

  • For your cell phone, use an auto adapter may be needed to recharge your phone.

  • Keep fresh batteries in your smoke detectors.

  • Fill up your car’s gas tank.

  • Maintain a supply of cash. Credit cards and ATM machines may not work if the power is out.

During an Outage

  • Turn off all the major appliances in your home, especially the heat pump. This will prevent damage to the appliances once the power is restored. Then, try not to turn everything back on at once; turn on appliances gradually so the electric demand does not jump suddenly.

  • Make sure the oven and stove are off to prevent fires if the power comes back on while you’re away. Do not set dishes, towels, or paper on the stove; these may catch on fire if a burner is on when the power comes on.

  • Leave the freezer and refrigerator closed so food will stay cold longer.

    Never touch downed power lines or attempt to remove trees from power lines. If there is any contact with live lines, it may result in serious injury or death.


Here’s a 2-minute video on how to prepare for an outage.

Sources: e-How and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative